The sessions court on Friday sentenced four men, convicted of raping a telephone operator from Bhandup in the Shakti Mills compound last year, to life imprisonment and fined them Rs21,000 each.
Vijay Jadhav, Kasim Shaikh alias Bangali, Salim Ansari and Ashfaq Shaikh stripped the 19-year-old victim and took turns to rape her on July 31, 2013. The court on Thursday convicted all four of sodomising the victim, wrongfully confining her, hurting and intimidating her.
Principal judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi said the four should be dealt with sternly so that a proper signal is sent across to the society.
Jadhav, Bangali, Ansari and Shaikh told the court that they were poor and the police had wrongfully arrested them. Their advocates pleaded they be sentenced to 20 years rigorous imprisonment so that they get a chance to reform themselves.
One of the advocates even said that giving strict punishments in rape cases doesn't help the society. Whereas a lower sentence can help a convict to reform himself, he said.
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam opposed the move, saying none of the four showed any sign of remorse. They shed "crocodile tears", he said. "The convicts not only raped her but also sodomised her, which has left her scarred for life. Even now she is in a vegetative state of mind. These people deserve nothing less than life imprisonment."
Holding the crime premeditated, the court said: "Such aspects (socio-economic) are irrelevant in the offences of rape... Mercy in some cases is justified, but not in this case. If mercy is shown, it will be a mockery of justice..."
The verdict in the other gang rape in Shakti Mills compound — that of a photojournalist on August 22, 2013 — is likely to be delivered on Monday. According to the law, if a person is convicted in two gang rape cases and he is sentenced to life in one case, he might get a death penalty in the other if the cases are not heard simultaneously.